The Remarkable Practice of Dream Yoga

Lucid dreaming expert, author, “curiouist,” and integralist Andrew Holecek explains how lucid dreaming opens the door to a greatly expanded understanding of our minds, our perception of reality, and human potential altogether. If we consciously explore our night lives practicing dream yoga, we can learn how to discard our habits, purify our karma, and discover beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are co-creators of our experience. What we do in dream yoga is not limited to nighttime action; it weaves back into our daytime lives, and ultimately our experience of dying.

Andrew describes how dreams are a powerful way to discover emptiness and openness, and fall into reality—like falling into love—our primordial contraction cast away. Besides being a life-changing discourse on the incredible potential of dream yoga, Andrew Holecek’s cheerful, well-informed, easy way of talking and teaching about lucid dreaming—relating it also to the wisdom traditions, our sense of identity, lucid living, and human evolution—makes this a real pleasure to listen to.

Recorded on April 13, 2022.

Topics & Timestamps: Part 1

  • Introducing Andrew Holecek, master of Dream Yoga (01:44)
  • Andrew’s profound experience with lucid dreaming as a young man, with dreamtime becoming more real and daytime experience less real (04:08)
  • Retrofitting his understanding over time to make sense of his experience landed Andrew in Buddhism (06:25)
  • Buddha is literally the Awakened One in Sanskrit—awakened in relationship to what? (08:23)
  • Nocturnal practices became a real practice, a unique form of night school and a pedagogy of the future (09:24)
  • Overview of the 5 nocturnal meditations (10:55)
  • Liminal dreaming: getting into the witnessing perspective and watching how the mind goes offline, the ego structure comes undone (11:25)
  • Lucid dreaming: awakening to the fact that you are dreaming—used largely for self-fulfillment (12:44)
  • Dream yoga is where it transitions to self-transcendence (13:42)
  • Sleep yoga, or luminosity yoga, a primary practice of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism (14:30)
  • Bardo yoga, the “dream at the end of time,” working with the mind to prepare for death (16:03)
  • Where do you go when you die? You transition from one dream to the next: lucid dreaming leads to lucid living and lucid dying (17:52)
  • If you don’t wake up and take control of your dream and finally your mind, your unconscious, your habits, will control your mind (19:17)
  • Awake-centricity: in the West our understanding of mind and reality is derived solely from our experience in the waking state, versus the East’s more integral understanding derived from all 3 states, waking, dreaming, deep sleep (22:30)
  • The “awakened mind” is a mind that is lucid under all conditions (26:25)
  • The West has a single stage worldview—but multi stage cultures have a vastly larger understanding of ourselves and our reality; 90% of the world’s cultures are polyphasic (28:06)
  • Mullah Nasruddin, the Sufi story of the lost key (30:12)
  • Ignoring our circadian rhythms, we miss the opportunity the night offers to further our brain’s evolution (31:14)
  • Dreams manifest along a spectrum, from meaningless neurological noise to ones that shed light on our lives, transcending our sense of self (34:09)
  • Dream incubation practices: supplicating for guidance, for help (38:14)

Topics & Timestamps: Part 2

  • How can one begin? First, realize the potentiality of lucid dreaming and become an oneironaut (01:40)
  • The importance of intentionality, and, installing pop-ups in your unconscious mind (04:19)
  • Meditation practice is a super technique to help attain lucidity at night (and in the daytime) (07:18)
  • How you can purify your karma and habits in your dreams (09:51)
  • Transforming the mother of all our habits: reification (12:40)
  • Purifying habits by night purifies habits by day (14:44)
  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teaching on dream yoga (19:09)
  • Dream yoga is a powerful way to discover emptiness, emptiness = openness = love; meditation habituates us to openness, and when falling into reality, the primordial contraction is removed (22:00)
  • How the self sense comes undone when we fall asleep, a concordant experience with dying (26:11)
  • Andrew leads a short (game changing) dream yoga practice: 3-fold impurity—and, where is the dreamer? (29:55)

Topics & Timestamps: Part 3

  • What is our identity? Discovering the empty nature of reality (01:37)
  • Our exclusive identification with form and extreme habituation to contraction (04:21)
  • What we think of as self is really just a self-image (11:38)
  • The transformation of consciousness into wisdom: not awareness of but awareness as (14:01)
  • Where does the illusion of matter come from? These teachings are a radical challenge to our worldview, transcending but including our self-sense (15:29)
  • Who are you really? Thou art that. This perception births tremendous love, tremendous altruism—when you realize there is no other (17:18)
  • “Perfuming” your awareness with requests or questions to induce daytime popups, symbolic responses, and synchronicities (20:41)
  • How lucidity relates to your sense of perspective (22:39)
  • When the world becomes more porous, less reified (24:59)
  • Realizing “I am a creative genius!” and a co-creator of our experience, and how we give away our power (27:41)
  • Ontic plasticity: decentralizing and discovering the empty nature of our self (30:32)
  • The filtering model: how we filter out aspects of reality that don’t feed us at our particular developmental level (37:22)
  • Fear is the fundamental reason for our contraction away from wonder (39:13)
  • Stage IV dream yoga is all about working with fear: fear of reality, fear of truth, fear of transcendence (40:11)

My initial questions and reactions (I will listen and return to this discussion after listening):

  • Is using the term “Yoga” cultural appropriation? Is the Dalai Lama a Yogi? Who has the right to develop new Yogic technologies and call them “Yoga”?

  • I am familiar with a Yogic practice where one achieves a meditative state and maintains the meditative state while sleeping. This effectively gives the practitioner several hours of “meditation”. How is this practice that already exists in Yoga and Meditation different from “lucid dreaming”. So converse to my previous question - who has the right to take existing practices that have existed for centuries and “rebrand” it with western terms and mindset? One example of this is Wim Hoff Rebranding parts of Tummo and calling it his discovery.

  • As a Lucid Dreaming layman, I understand one intention behind Lucid Dreaming is to use the dreams as a kind of knowledge and apply it to one’s life. In contrast, in Meditation and Yoga one is encouraged to let go of any images one sees and not derive any conclusions from them.

  • Similarly, I understand Lucid Dreaming is often conflated with Astral Projection, where one believes that the spirit or consciousness actually does travel and can actually learn things. For example, the more conspiratorial might believe they can access the Vatican’s “secret library”. I will be interested if the discussion touches this aspect as it seems to conflict with what Yogis understand.

I look forward to hearing what you think! I’ve always really appreciated Andrew Holecek, and really enjoy how he communicates this stuff.

A few quick notes:

  • Dream Yoga is already an authentic Dzogchen practice, so no “cultural appropriation” here (unless you count white Americans practicing a tradition that is not native to their own culture of origin — which personally I do not :slight_smile: )

  • I think your second one is an interesting question. I myself am not very interested in ideas of cultural appropriation, except in extreme cases (stereotypes, punching down, etc.) I think that the purpose of culture, which comes out of the intersubjective space, is to be shared across multiple sets of boundaries, which allows these lineages to continue to emerge and evolve as our real world conditions change, and as our world becomes smaller and the fruits of all these different cultural typologies becomes more accessible.

  • I see this as a question of emphasis — either emptiness, or fullness. One on effortless awareness, the other on mindfulness. And since these are both not-two…

  • I’m not sure Andrew often gets into some of the more paranormal claims around lucid dreaming — remote viewing, astral projection, etc. My sense is that he takes a somewhat “post-metaphysical” evidence-based approach, emphasizing what we can verify in any of the four quadrants (e.g. phenomenological verification, empirical/neurobiological verification, etc.)

Just a few quick thoughts! Hope you enjoy the discussion.

On your last bullet point: I wonder if you’re thinking of the Bon tradition of Tibetan Buddhism (or Bon-Po), which was the spiritual culture of Tibet prior to Buddhism. It is a shamanic tradition (so perhaps the idea you’ve heard of about “spirit or consciousness…traveling”?). While lamas and other roles have largely replaced the shaman, there are a few bonpos (shamans) (including Western shamanic Bon practitioners) who combine shamanic practices (including ‘soul flight’) with Buddhist philosophy and practices, including working with Buddhist deities.

Part 1 Discussion:

“The Mystic Swims Where the Psychotic Drowns”

This phrase is perhaps the most Integral way to look at this. There are certain methodologies - I’ll call them “technologies” that can be used for 2nd Tier but when used by someone in 1st Tier should come with a big label “Caeat Emptor”.
@LaWanna I think what I was referring to is many Americans approaching Astral Projection as a literal event. Andrew Holecek does not discuss Astral Projection, but many Americans involved in New Age spirituality see it as the next step to Lucid Dreaming. Yesterday I wandered into a discussion via a google search that posed the hypothesis that maybe the FBI knew about the Mara Lago Documents through Astral Projection - because surely the FBI has this skill set to protect our Assets and also the President from foreign Astral spies …

I think that is the danger for the first tier. A literal minded person will take these tools and apply them with a literal mind, a rational person with a rational mind and a postmodern person with a postmodern mind - and this is how we get what I refer to (often affectionately) as “whackos”.

Andrew Holecek touches a bit on this in Part 1 with Dream Yoga. The end realization he describes - that all life is but a dream - is not intended for someone at the start of the journey. If I walk around thinking and acting as if all life is merely a dream, I may find myself homeless and starving or worse.

For thousands of years these various esoteric knowledges and practices have been protected behind gatekeepers. Now in 2022 I don’t think there are any truly esoteric teachings left. They have all been converted to pdf and compiled into torrent files for mass distribution.

I think with powerful 2nd Tier technologies like this there will be one of four outcomes:

  • It will go completely over the head of those not ready to receive it
  • Those ready to receive it will benefit from it in transformative ways
  • Those not ready to receive it will be transformed in a transformative but very Chaotic way and be able to “skip” many decades or lifetimes of steady, gradual progress
  • Those not ready and who practice it will suffer physical, spiritual and / or psychological harm (for example, psychosis)

Stated another way - I am saying that Andrew Holecek seems to have found a technology that is the “real deal” - or those under 30 might use the term “legit”.

It makes absolute perfect sense that controlling one’s subconscious is the bottom line what we want to do. Dream Yoga is apparently a means to practice controlling one’s subconscious - even better, while we sleep. Become enlightened without even leaving the comfort your bed! lol

My only “yes, but” is that his warnings are somewhat understated. How does one know if one is a mystic or just psychotic? The world nailed one Mystic to a cross once upon a time.

I do think there is a great potential for this.

That’s funny, the FBI astral projecting to Mar-a-Lago; maybe they even played a round of astral golf… I’m not sure it’s just New Agers interested in astral projection; among others, things like Dungeons and Dragons, Doctor Strange, and the Netflix series Stranger Things are probably cultural influences on many people with an interest in it. iAwake Technologies might have some relevant audio programs if you’re interested. And before iAwake, there were the Hemi-Sync audio programs of Robert Monroe, still in operation I believe, some of which were aimed at inducing astral projection.

Yes, dream yoga is the ''real deal" and I particularly like it when contemporary people give some history of their terms and methodologies, present them in a context and give credit to traditional teachings, the roots of the practices, such as Andrew does. Lucid dreaming (like astral projection) is not limited to any one particular tradition, of course.

Your comment about “how does one know if one is a mystic or just psychotic” reminded me of Ram Dass. He told the story of visiting a mental institution and speaking with a psychotic patient. The guy was telling him he was God. And Ram Dass said, yes, you are God, and I’m God too. The patient said, no you’re not, you’re not God, I’m God. To which Ram Dass replied “and that’s why you’re locked up and I’m not.” :slightly_smiling_face:

There have been some studies that differentiate mystical or intense spiritual experience from psychosis and I believe Wilber has talked about this in one or more of his writings. One finding as I recall is that the person more truly mystically inclined or having authentic spiritual experience tends to doubt and question themselves, their experiences, even wonder about their sanity, whereas the pathological person does not. (Hence, Ram Dass’s psychotic friend with grandiose delusions, convinced he and only he was God.)

On a serious note, just from my little stint with that population, I think the key factor was “Who have they harmed.” Ultimately that was the reason they were in there - they had done significant harm to others or themselves, whether on purpose or by accident. Of course, every one of them had also been harmed in some way but that isn’t a deciding factor unless they in turn do harm: physical, emotional or damaging or stealing property.

I have quite a bit of Hemi-sync material but I’ve never been really interested in Astral Projection because to my literal and logical mind it was nonsense, lol. My preference during that period of time in the 2000’s was Holo-sync because they didn’t make any claims about supernatural spiritual abilities.

Andrew Holecek makes more sense because he is not making claims at the literal level.

@corey-devos @LaWanna
I am reading Andrew holeckeks book Dream Yoga and the forward is by Stephen Laberge.

Laberge makes the claim that he and his colleagues at stanford university have proven the objectivity of lucid dreams. Since this is the forward there are no footnotes to substantiate this claim.

Any idea what he is talking about?

Consciousness researcher Charles Tart first raised the possibility of communication to the outside world from the lucid dream while the dream was happening. Using a sleep lab at Stanford University, LaBerge undertook experiments in which he, as the lucid dreamer, signaled with his (dream) eyes when he was having a lucid dream, and the eye movements were recorded on a polygraph machine.

Most of the body is paralyzed during REM sleep, when lucid dreams take place, except for the eyes of course, which is why he used eye movements as his form of volitional communication.

I took a workshop with LaBerge back in the day, during a period when I was having spontaneous lucid dreams. He was a fascinating guy, and I swear, the pupils of his eyes looked like they were spinning balls of light, captivating.